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A Candid Look at MMORPG Zone Design

Posted Mon, Jun 12, 2006 by Ethec

Zoned for development

Zones and quests. When designed well, they become a transparent part of the MMO experience. When designed poorly, filled with bugs and unnecessary inconveniences, bad zones and quests are worse than a waste of time. Ethec examines the highs and lows of content design as he zeroes in on what, besides basic functionality, makes good content good and bad content terrible.

Other aspects of Nektulos Forest were far less insidious but puzzling nonetheless. The fact that the two natural gathering spots- the dock and the Commonlands gate - inhabited a small semi-circle in the western part of the zone far away from the action. A door along the northwest wall of the zone, apparently to no where, with the Keeper standing around telling everyone- everyone- they're not worthy. An important Thexian Heritage Quest giver who gives a timed step- the group completes the run and, invariably, unlike any other quest giving NPC, double click doesn't mean talk to this guy, it means attack. Someone attacks him, and the time runs out as they try and shake the aggro to put the mob back in friendly quest rewarding form. The since-removed Enchanted Lands access quest that never seemed to put the entire group on the boat. The list goes on, but numerous bugs aside, Nek was not a fun place to play.

Today's series on the highs and lows of zone / content design begins! Check out "Zoned for Development" right here at Ten Ton Hammer.


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